The Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has issued new planning guidance to prevent unwanted wind farms being imposed on communities and damaging the environment.
Mr Pickles says:
Current planning decisions on onshore wind are not always reflecting a locally-led planning system. Much of this stems from planning changes made by the last Administration, which is why we introduced the National Planning Policy Framework and abolished the last Government’s top-down Regional Strategies through the Localism Act.
Following a wide range of representations, including the letter of January 2012 to the Prime Minister from one hundred Hon Members, and in light of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Call for Evidence, it has become clear that action is needed to deliver the balance expected by the National Planning Policy Framework on onshore wind. We need to ensure that protecting the local environment is properly considered alongside the broader issues of protecting the global environment.
He adds that "some local communities have genuine concerns that when it comes to wind farms insufficient weight is being given to environmental considerations like landscape, heritage and local amenity." For instance we need to "recognise that the impact on predominantly flat landscapes can be as great or greater than as on hilly or mountainous ones" and that "great care should be taken to ensure heritage assets are conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance, including the impact of proposals on views important to their setting."
Friends of the countryside will welcome this balanced approach. But Friends of the Earth have attacked it. They complain it is "rigging the planning system against onshire wind. " Already Friends of the Earth have proved themselves Friends of the Rat – in opposing weekly bin collections. Now they emerge as Friends of the Wind turbine – even if it ruins the landscape and local environment.